- Category : Religion-Spiritual-Leader-Guru
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Split - Small (21,57)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 4
American evangelist, a Southern Baptist preacher who was "born again" as a teen, accepting Jesus as his personal savior. After 1947, he spread the good word by way of 900 radio stations and many TV crusades. He published a magazine, "Decision," with circulation of more than four million, and gradually moved into the TV ministry. World- traveled, he became internationally known as the spiritual leader of presidents and noted people in many walks of life. The author of 24 books, many of them best-sellers, Graham is the recipient of several awards including the Congressional Gold Medal in 1996, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award in 2000 and an honorary knighthood (KBE) in December 2001. He penned his autobiography, “Just As I Am,” in 1997.
Graham is never unctuous or pious; rather, he is earnest, quietly confident and, despite his iconic status, ministers from a personal level. It is estimated that Graham has preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history: some 210 million in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through his TV, film, radio, video and print projects.
The oldest of four children, he was born into a Christian church-going farming family, but it wasn’t until 1934, after hearing a particularly moving sermon, that Graham felt moved to commit his life to Christ. He fell in love with a young woman during his first year at Florida Bible Institute. In 1938 he proposed marriage; she accepted, only to reject him the following year to marry another. He had vowed never to kiss a woman again until he knew she was the one to be his wife. His resolution lasted until late 1940 when he met Ruth Bell, age 17. He later claimed that he fell in love that minute. Graham at the time was a recent graduate of Florida Bible Institute in Tampa, already an ordained Baptist minister at age 22, and was about to begin his post-grad work at Wheaton College. A well-mannered gentleman with strong features, he stood 6'2" and sported a mane of wavy dark blond hair. Ruth was the daughter of missionaries and planned to follow her parents’ work of spreading the word of God. Their courtship moved cautiously through the next two years, and they married on August 13, 1943 in Montreat, NC. They went on to have five children, Virginia, Anne, Ruth, Franklin and Nelson, all of whom went into the ministry, 19 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
After graduation from Wheaton, the Grahams moved to Western Springs, IL, where as pastor of the Baptist Church, he hosted a religious radio program. He subsequently became vice president of Youth for Christ and began speaking at rallies. He remained an active staff member in the organization until 1948 and began to hold his own evangelistic gatherings across the country. In 1949, a three-week crusade held in Los Angeles propelled him into the public eye, assisted by newspaper publishers and other powerful media people who covered his ministry. In 1950, Graham incorporated The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and began broadcasting on a weekly radio program, “The Hour of Decision,” a show that has lasted well over half a century. His career in the public eye was further advanced in 1957 when he conducted a 16-week crusade at Madison Square Garden, New York. Over 2 million people attended.
In 1992, after years of traveling, preaching, writing, and broadcasting, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Graham began to think about retiring, and his son Franklin gradually took more responsibility at the ministry. On December 3, 1997, Graham was hospitalized in Jacksonville, FL with pneumonia that had developed while he was on vacation; he was discharged six days later. In 2000 he formally gave control of his international organization to his son Franklin. In 2004, Graham broke his left hip and pelvic bone in two separate falls. He had by then been diagnosed with prostate cancer, failing vision and hearing. At age 86, he joked with a visitor, "Don't get old if you can avoid it."
After more than 60 years of marriage Billy and Ruth Graham are still living in the same rustic Montreat house they built in 1955. Failing health plagues both of them. Ruth suffers from a degenerative spinal condition that keeps her bedridden most of the time.
On June 26, 2005, despite intense heat, his advanced age and his ill health, Graham delivered a rousing 23-minute sermon at what he considers his last revival meeting in the United States. The three-day rally was held from June 24-26 in Queens, NY, where his public career had in 1957 taken a triumphant leap forward.
On July 1, 2005 his daughter Virginia Graham Foreman, an author and public speaker, was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after she allegedly pushed her husband and choked him in a New Smyrna Beach, FL store parking lot. She spent the night in jail.
Billy Graham’s beloved wife Ruth died at their home in Little Piney Cove, NC on June 14, 2007, at 5:05 PM. She had been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis and had been battling a recent case of pneumonia. The day prior to her death she had fallen into a coma after she decided to discontinue taking nutrients via her feeding-tube.